Boomkat Product Review:
Emissaries of ancient, atavistic sound, Russian ensemble Phurpa returns to Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a keeling new album of tantric Tibetan throat singing and human thigh bone (kangling) flutes, aye.
‘Hymns of Gyer’ ushers in an almighty new body of work by Phurpa following nearly a decade from the 2011 reissue of ’Trowo Phurnag Ceremony’ on Ideologic Organ which introduced the band to many around the world. Still sounding like little else beyond the temples of Tibet, Phurpa take their artform very seriously and with authentic results that explore and reveal the mysteries of Bon, the oldest Buddhist tradition from Tibet, to a world that’s coincidentally hungry for some sense of profound knowledge, spirituality, or historic perspective in a time of crisis.
Arriving on the same label that smartly highlighted When’s influential ‘Black Death’ (a choice listen in these times), Phurpa’s new sacrifice speaks to an eternal push and pull between negative energy and the enchanting power of collective voices, filling the void with a style of incantation learned over thousands of years and based on a physical mastery of technique involving extensive training and study.
Even if the most spiritual thing you’ve ever done is open a bottle of vodka, it’s not hard to feel the magnetic, ancient attraction of Phurpa’s overtone singing. On a purely physical level it’s impressive enough, especially when you have a go yourself and harmonise until it starts to hurt one’s delicate throat (apparently black tea with chilli pepper and cream helps), but the hypnotic conviction of their style and its effect is much more than a technical trick, and feels ever more necessary for a sense of ancient perspective right now. We imagine it makes an excellent yoga soundtrack.